Writer Michael Bishop reads his essay Primum Non Nocere: First, Do No Harm to start the show. The essay is part investigative journalism, part creative non-fiction and interrogates the taken-for-granted practice of organ donation and recovery. The Thriving crew discuss the essay, especially for how it illuminates what amounts to a kafkaesque custom. In taking the wool away from our eyes, the discussion builds to using politically-informed art to uncover other taken-for-granted facets of our lives, especially ones more vivid in the pandemic.
CONTENT WARNING: The essay contains vivid descriptions of medical procedures including organ recovery surgery. The story runs from minutes 6 through 22:30.
Huge thanks to In Heaven by Drake Stafford for our intro song, A Time for Action by Kennedy for our outro, the prolific and enigmatic Joe Shine for the thumbnail art, the Normal School for Mike’s essay, and Kai Engel for the great suspense music.
For the written version of Mike’s Primum Non Nocere essay at the Normal School.
Mike mentioned a study that showed that 20% of unresponsive patients showed some level of awareness. I was wrong: it’s closer to 10%. Careful examination revealed that some displayed very subtle signs of consciousness, but also that ~5% of patients showed zero outward signs of awareness yet were able to answer yes/no questions using fMRI. Here’s an Aeon article from the researchers: https://aeon.co/amp/essays/new-therapies-offer-hope-for-people-trapped-by-disorders-of-consciousness and here’s a link to the study (also linked in Aeon article) https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0905370?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub++0pubmed. This study provides an excellent overview of the crisis within neuroscience regarding the fiction of brain death: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10943-018-0654-7.
King Tut’s once forgotten tomb
There, There by Tommy Orange and the great Albert Camus
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